O's game blog: Grayson Rodriguez faces Toronto

TORONTO – When the Toronto Blue Jays lost to the New York Yankees 4-2 on Thursday, they had dropped three of four games in that series and it was their first home series loss of the year. They were 5-0 in home series until playing New York. After Friday’s loss to the Orioles, should Baltimore win one of the next two this weekend, the Blue Jays will have another home series loss.

In addition to that, Toronto swept the Atlanta Braves last weekend and Pittsburgh the weekend before that. Toronto has won each of its last 10 series that began on a Friday, dating to last September. That is the longest such streak in team history, surpassing nine straight weekend series wins from August 2021 to May 2022.

But behind Kyle Gibson’s strong seven-inning outing and homers from Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander and Adam Frazier, the Orioles beat Toronto 6-2 last night to win another series-opening game.

The Birds are now 13-2 in series openers, including an 8-0 mark in road openers.

The Orioles went 9-10 against Toronto last year and 5-5 at Rogers Centre. They have lost the season series every year since 2018 to Toronto, going 30-57 in that span.

The Orioles are 29-16 and begin play today 3 1/2 games back of Tampa Bay. Baltimore’s .644 win percentage is second in the majors only behind Tampa Bay, and the Orioles would be in first place in every other division in baseball. The O’s have won three of four and seven of 10 games. Over longer stretches, they have won 20 of 29, 23 of 33 and 25 of their past 36 games.

The Orioles, who have scored 26 runs over the last five games, have hit five homers their past two games, 11 in the last five and 13 homers in their past seven games.

After Gibson’s outing last night, the O’s staff has a 3.04 ERA over the past 14 games. Now with 13 quality starts on the year, the Orioles are 12-1 when they get one and 4-0 when a Baltimore pitcher goes seven innings or more.

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (2-1, 6.57 ERA) will make his ninth start today. He has allowed 1.730 WHIP on the year, surrendering 11.4 hits per nine innings and 2.2 homers. Monday versus the Los Angeles Angels, Rodriguez was hit hard and allowed eight runs over 3 1/3 innings.

Manager Brandon Hyde said the rookie is learning some tough lessons at the major league level.

“I hate to see a guy go through that (getting hit hard)," Hyde said. "I think what he is taking out is that up here stuff is important, and commanding your stuff is as important as anything else. To be able to command your fastball, not overthrow and not making poor 0-2 pitches as he did the other day. Those are all experiences that he might get away with in the minor leagues, but these hitters up here are too good. So, every start is a learning experience for him right now.”

Rodriguez has allowed a .328 batting average and 1.045 OPS versus lefty batters and .297/.840 against right-handers. He has an ERA of 11.37 his past three starts with a 1.341 OPS against.

Today he needs to try to lock in better on the command and mimic some of his good outings this year, which have included four games when he allowed two runs or fewer.

His mound opponent is struggling too, and that is a surprise. Right-hander Alek Manoah (1-4, 5.40 ERA) finished third for the 2022 American League Cy Young Award, when he was 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA.

But Monday against New York he allowed five runs in four innings, and in three starts this month Manoah is 0-3 with a 6.59 ERA and .985 OPS against.

But in five starts last season against the Orioles he went 2-1 with a 2.64 ERA. And in eight career starts he is 3-1 with a 2.87 ERA against the Orioles.

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